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Sat 13 Oct 2007 - 4:26 pm UTC
The composer Henry Cowell grew up and lived in Menlo Park, CA, probably until he was arrested in the thirties. I'd like to know the street address of the house where he lived.
There is a book by Michael Hicks -- Henry Cowell: Bohemian -- that mentions the house as being in the hills of Menlo Park, but no explicit address is given.
I asked the Library of Congress and also got this response:
Librarian 1: A review of many of the letters to Henry Cowell, and those from him in the Nicolas Slonimsky Collection in the Music Division, showed that the only address ever given was "Henry Cowell, Menlo Park, California."
Sat 13 Oct 2007 - 9:09 pm UTC
Have you asked the Music Library at The University of South Carolina?
The container list of The Henry Cowell Collection includes correspondence.
Under Series III: Correspondence, Programs, et. al. it says:
"Printed stationery with Cowell's Menlo Park address (crossed through)"
Sun 14 Oct 2007 - 10:15 am UTC
The nearest I have got to is in 1935 when he gave his address as Box 1, Menlo Park, California.
One other possible source of information is his business and financial correspondence (tax returns, bank statements, etc) which is held at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Music Division.
Would you like me to make the inquiry of them? Or would you, in case you have other questions you may wish to ask them?
Sun 14 Oct 2007 - 2:32 pm UTC
I wonder if there was no street names when he lived there?
I have been looking at his biography and no address or street name is given. It states that his cabin was to the west of the El Camino Real on hill. And the roads to reach it were “one dreary stretch of dust in the summer, and an unending chain of black mud holes in winter”. His statement of defence in the court case on provides Menlo Park.
Cowell, Bohemian (Music in American Life)
The author has given an extensive bibliography and one source you may wish to contact is the
Menlo Park Historical Assoc.
P.O. Box 1002
Menlo Park CA 94026
Perhaps they be able to assist.
Mon 15 Oct 2007 - 8:43 am UTC
I have had no success on his burial either. I have searched several newspaper databases without success. Other databases require payment and I was unable to search them. I notice his widow did not die until 1995. She remained living in Shady after Henry’s death. Perhaps he is buried near there. Again no success in the newspapers.
I return the extensive archive in the New York Public Library. I note that it contains some documents relating to his illness and death. Perhaps it may contain some clues or funeral bills which may provide the answer.
On the subject of the Menlo Park address I have found this comment in an article on the archive.
“When he was 8 years old we lived in our cabin in Santa Clara Valley, 2 miles from Menlo Park, 1-3/4 miles from Stanford University”
Frustratingly I think I have reached the end of my efforts.
Tue 16 Oct 2007 - 1:32 am UTC
I have to disagree with Researcher Answerfinder as I think that she did indeed find the answer.
In my research I ended up exactly where she did, namely, http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/notes/v057/57.1boziwick.html.
I quote from that site:
1. "We live in San Francisco, 2517 Castro St. Henry remembers our country house near Stanford University where he was born . . . [in 1897] when I was 45 years of age. . . . He was beautiful beyond the ordinary, with an indescribable, spiritual quality of loveliness impossible to convey in verse or to be caught in a photograph. When he was about 6 years of age I was told that he had been pronounced, by a member of the Sketch Club, the most beautiful child in San Francisco. He was photographed by 4 different art-photographers. [End Page 46] One, especially, had him in many poses and fairly covered her walls with reproductions. I believe they were all lost in the great fire following the earthquake. . . . When he was 8 years old we lived in our cabin in Santa Clara Valley, 2 miles from Menlo Park, 1-3/4 miles from Stanford University. . . . A few weeks after the great earthquake we left our Santa Clara Valley home [and went first to a sister in Kansas, then to Des Moines, and then to New York City. After three years returning to Kansas for one year]. . . . We came home [to the Santa Clara Valley cabin] in September of 1910, when Henry was 13 years of age."
This passage by Henry's stepmother, Olive, tells us that he lived on Castro street and that they previously lived in the "country cabin" which we can conclude has no address as most cabins in the 1908 woods had no address.
Simply, the address was as described...2 miles from Menlo Park and 1.75 miles from Stanford.
2. "On 7 July 1936, Cowell wrote to composer John Becker:
I have been arrested and convicted for a minimum of a year on a statutory charge--don't believe any wild reports on it (some false rumors were printed in the papers here). I will see that you are sent the details. In the meantime, I hope our fine friendship will not suffer, but that you will feel you know me well enough to believe in me, and in the pure and sincere affection I have for you and your whole family.
New Music will be run by Gerald Strang. I may not be able to write letters. I go perhaps today to San Quentin. If you wish to address me, do so through Olive Cowell, 171 San Marcos Ave. San Francisco. She's handling all my affairs--
Deepest love to you and Evelyn and the kids. Henry"
In this letter, Cowell offers his stepmother's address which may or may not been his permanent address in 1936. It may have been his home or Olive's.
Concluding, they did live in the woods in a "country house" at times. He was probably born in that very cabin and returned to it occasionally over the years. Residing on Castro St with his stepmother can be garnered by his stepmother's statement.
At the 1936 incarceration, he only offered the San Marcos address. As he did not marry Sydney until 1941 we might reasonably conclude (but not firmly) that he lived at the San Marcos address.
With 2 addresses and a cabin in the woods near Stanford, I would be content in having found the areas that young and middle aged Cowell lived before settling in Woodstock, NY.
3. Regarding Woodstock (or Shady), ". He was soon joined by OTTO LUENING and the two began to compose in earnest some of the first tape compositions in the United States at the home of Henry Cowell in Woodstock, New York: Fantasy In Space, Low Speed, and Sonic Contours"
I really feel that Answerfinder has not only "reached the end of her efforts", but that she has truly answered this question accurately.
An interesting note, "After his parents' divorce in 1903, he was raised by his mother, Clarissa Dixon, author of the early feminist novel Janet and Her Dear Phebe." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Cowell
Wed 17 Oct 2007 - 12:00 am UTC
I sent an email to the Music Library at The University of South Carolina asking about the "Printed stationery with Cowell's Menlo Park address (crossed through)"
I received a response today. They found the correspondence and the letterhead has "Menlo Park, Calif." marked out and is replaced with "34 Prescott Ave/ Bronxville NY" zip code 10708. Unfortunately, there is no other mention of any California address.
Mon 22 Oct 2007 - 4:13 pm UTC
Good Day, AWORKS.
This has been an adventure for me as I wanted to make sure you were satisfied with the whereabouts of Composer Cowell.
I do hope that this answer resolves all questions as to his early life habitation..
The greatest obstacle to the discovery of everything about Henry Cowell was his wife, Sydney Robertson Cowell…”On 20 June 2000, the Henry Cowell Collection was opened to the public. Access, since Cowell's death thirty-five years ago, had been restricted by the composer's widow, Sidney Robertson Cowell. No one was permitted to see these materials except for those whose work was sanctioned by Mrs. Cowell. Through the years, though she handpicked several individuals to write the definitive biography of her husband, no such work appeared. The most recent of the chosen biographers is Joel Sachs, who took on the task in the late 1980s, and his biography of Cowell (to be published by Oxford University Press) is well underway” .
Sydney Cowell died at the age of 91 in 1995 at the family home in Shady, NY
http://depthome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/isam/NewsS95.pdf (see page 8)
Also, we must remember that Cowell was not one to stay long at any place: “Beginning in the early 1920s, Cowell toured widely in North America and Europe as a pianist, playing his own experimental works..”
He went on to investigate Indian classical music and, in the late 1920s, began teaching courses in world music at schools in California and New York—Harrison's tutelage under Cowell would begin when he enrolled in one such course in San Francisco.
“In 1916, Henry went to New York, where he intended to pursue”
Now. let's see what Mr. Cowell has been up to from 1897 until 12/10/1965!
Cowell grew up in poverty in San Francisco and on family farms in Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma.
In Chapter 1 of Henry Cowell, Bohemian, the author noted that Clarissa delivered Henry in a ramshackle cabin made of scrapwood. This was no home that needed an address…it was a hovel.
“Their home was a cottage in a rural area southeast of San Francisco; Henry Cowell was born there, and apparently it remained his principal base until they left in 1906. His parents divorced in 1903, and following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, he and his mother lived (mainly with relatives) in Iowa, New York and eventually Kansas(1910 U.S. Census shows Collyer, KS), where he had access to a piano. Three decades later, he recalled this period in the Old American Country Set (1939). “
The 1910 US Census lists a 13 year old Henry Cowell in Collyer, Trego County, Kansas.
He lives with Clara Dixon(58), Jennie A Guilbert (52) and Waltr D Guilbert.
In 1900 the whole of Trego County had a population of 2722.
The census did not show the town of Collyer, but I searched county cemeteries and located Jennie A Guilbert(1857-1942) at Collyer’s Union Cemetery in Trego County.
What I could not find was the relationship of Jennie Guilbert to Clara Dixon, who came from Iowa, not Kansas. Perhaps it was her sister as their ages are in reasonable proximity.
You might have noticed here or from your readings that Henry was born when Clarissa was 45 years old......in 1897!
By the time of their return to Menlo Park, circa 1910, Clarissa Cowell was ill with brast cancer. She was to share 19 years of Henry’s life and from the time he was born she kept diaries of his activities. There is so much material on the life of Henry Cowell in the Cowell collection of the New York Public Library. All his correspondence..all passports and tax return copies for his whole life, all the journals and remembrances of his family. It is an awesome collection that leaves very little information about his life to quesswork. The family and friends knew he was a special genius from childhood and they appeared to record every minute of his life. Henry was one of the Terman (Stanford) children that were studied because of their special gifts. We shall return to the Cowell Collection below with the proper cites.
My email to Matthew Snyder, the librarian in charge of the Cowell collection, was not answered. He has that remarkable collection of Henrys life and could easily tell us the residences of Henry Cowell throughout his life. However, librarians at New York Public Library are very busy professionals and his response might take weeks.
Clarissa Dixon Cowell recalled: “When he was 8 years old we lived in our cabin in Santa Clara Valley, 2 miles from Menlo Park, 1-3/4 miles from Stanford University. . . “ http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/notes/v057/57.1boziwick.pdf
I. We shall first go to the mapquest site for Menlo Park and Stanford to do some minor figuring; drawing a couple of circles using the legend in the map picture.
a. Menlo Park..Stanford U map today.. Use 3 bars on mapquest to see Menlo Park at top of picture and the big Stanford campus(in purple) at the bottom. http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?country=US&city=stanford+university&state=ca
b. Aerial view of the same map above. Notice that El Camino Real and Santa Cruz Ave meet at the point of Menlo Park. Henry sold plants at the train station there on Alma near El Camino Real and Santa Cruz. http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?country=US&city=stanford+university&state=ca
In excess of 1100 California State Historic Landmarks dot the land.
If you wish to preview any of these sites before visiting them, it is
possible on the website: http://www.donaldlaird.com/landmarks/
where you will see great photos of the official plaque and the actual site.
There is one that was important to young Henry Cowell. Today it remains the oldest railroad passenger station in California. It is Landmark 955.
In front of this station, Henry would sell the plants that he gathered in the foothills.
c. Now at the bottom right of the map you’ll notice the legend showing that 1200 feet is approx one inch..Get a length of cardboard and notch it with the the dimensions in the legend…which looks like a little over an inch per 1200 ft. or better yet, snip a piece of string that represents 105560/1200=8.8 notchs long~10 inches; and another string of 9240/1200=7.7~8.5 inches.
d. It would be best if you could print that map as we will use those strings to draw two circles. Once circle will have the intersection of Santa Cruz Ave and El Camino Real as its’ center while the other will have the red star on the map as a center for Stanford U.(near the corner of Lasuen Mall and Escondido Mall).
e. Studying that map you can see a well developed neighborhood today where there was once forest in which the Cowell family lived in a cabin. Using the above technique I reasonably concluded that they were near the present location of Bear Gulch Reservoir. In the “Bohemian”, author Hicks relays Henry’s story about the old piano that a wagon had to trudge up the rough hilly road where it fell out of the wagon.
This incident occurred in 1912 … Henry was 15.
In the fall of 1914 Henry was admitted to Berkeley to study under Seeger. In 1916 he went to New York to study at the Institute of Musical Art.
In 1923 Schonberg invited Henry to play in Berlin.
In 1928 Henry became the first American composer invited to Russia.
In 1931 with the Guggenheim grant , he went back to Berlin for further study.
In 1936, the San Quentin injustice.
In 1940 he moved to White Plains, NY after release from prison, the married Sydney in 1941.
f. Although those hills now have manicured million dollar homes, in 1900 it contained the scrapwood cabin of Mr Cowell.
g. Note that Holy Cross Cemetery was established in 1875 and Henry would have been aware of this place. No Cowells or Dixons are listed in the records there.
In fact, the article about his imprisonment mentions that “One of the more interesting stories in Menlo Park's past involves Henry Cowell, an internationally known composer who was charged with homosexual conduct by local authorities and arrested on May 21, 1936, at his cottage off the Alameda.” The document cited below is a must read as it shows a remarkable side of Henry Cowell…his efforts to bring music and joy to the depressing atmosphere of San Quentin prison. http://www.almanacnews.com/morgue/1998/1998_08_05.gstopn05.html
h. Alameda is not far from Holy Cross Cemetery and it is very close to that railroad station where young Harry sold plants to passengers years before; but now in 1936 he would be a 39 year old established composer living “off Alameda”… There is a Cowell Lane in the area today, and I cannot confirm that was the location of his home; but we can conclude that was definitely not the shack where he was born in those muddy hills. His early life with his parents reminds me very much of the hippies…the Flower Children of the communes and forests. Today, we might call the Cowell family homeless at that stage of theirlives, but certainly not illiterate nor untalented. http://www.almanacnews.com/morgue/1998/1998_08_05.gstopn05.html
i. Postcard photo of Stanford around 1903 when Henry Cowell would have been 6 years old from Google Images. Very rural and undeveloped beyond Stanford..
A 1905 photo of Stanford University.
II. The San Francisco telephone directory for 1902 & 1904 has no Cowell listing; 1907 listed Harry Cowell, journalist 2517 Castro St, San Francisco. Note that Clarissa stated they came home in Sept 1910 and she said "We live in San Francisco, 2517 Castro St.” This is the first address that I have found any of the Cowells mention publicly other than the shack in the hills above Stanford and Menlo Park. We have located the first real address of Henry Cowell and it is in San Francisco after Sept 1910, and it is the same address that is listed in the 1907 San Francisco phone directory for Harry Cowell, journalist.
The streets of San Francisco at the time Henry roamed them would resemble this 1906 pre-earthquake photo.
Looking at 2517 Castro St., SF, CA today on Google Maps, you will see that it is at the very intersection of Castro and Elizabeth St in the heart of town.not far from the Mission District and near the famous Market St.
A satellite view shows wide streets and large buildings…hard to tell if any residences are still there. An address search has zero results except for a small apt. at 2512 Castro.
Breast cancer claimed Clarissa Dixon Cowell in 1916. At 67 her lifespan was almost identical to her son’s.
In 1918 &1922, Harry Cowell showed up in the SF directory at 710 St.Roses Ave and listed himself as a writer rather than a journalist. This was just before Henry took the trip to Berlin in 1923. I feel safe in concluding that Olive Cowell, Henry's stepmother, also lived there.
http://www.cagenweb.com/sanfrancisco/index.htm# (note: page 473)
As you mentioned in your question, you read in H.C, Bohemian that Henry directed his mail be sent to his stepmother, Olive Cowell at 171 San Marcos Ave, San Francisco while he was imprisoned beginning in 1936.
THE SHADY, NEW YORK HOME
“In 1942 they moved to Shady where much of his music was composed”
“In 1916, utopian philosopher and poet Hervey White built a "music chapel" in the woods. It was the Maverick Concert Series, the beginning of what is now the oldest, continuous chamber music festival in America. Composers such as Henry Cowel, John Cage, Robert Starrer and Peter Schickele created works that were premiered there. Today, this hand-built concert hall with perfect acoustics, is a multi-starred attraction on the National Register of Historic Places with world-class musicans playing there from June to September.”
***************************************************************************”He was also close friends with the famous composer Henry Cowell and his wife Sidney, who lived off Route 212 near Reynolds Lane. The Cowells collaborated on a well-known book, Charles Ives and his Music, published in 1955. In the introduction the Cowells wrote that "Alf Evers as a Catskill Mountains neighbor of skill and experience, has been generous with the finest possible professional help over stiles, past technical traps, and through mazes and thickets." Alf helped them in the editing and writing of the book. “
“Apart from teaching stints at Columbia and the New School for Social Research, he spends most of his time in a peeling, starkly furnished yellow clapboard house in Shady, N.Y., surrounded by instruments that testify to his lifelong passion for sounds: Persian drums, Oriental flutes, a set of four resonant Pyrex bowls that he used in his Symphony No. 11 ("When my wife and I are out shopping," says Cowell, "we always strike things speculatively").”
My email to Composer Teitelbaum, who runs the Cowell Foundation, has not yet been answered, but Mr. Teitelbaum would know the address of Henry in Shady and the final resting place of Mr. Cowell. It would be so fitting for him to be at the Artist’s Cemetery, but I do not know that as a search of the cemetery was uneventful.
In 1961 Henry Cowell recorded a Musical Autobiography which lasts 100 minutes. It is well worth the time to click on this audio and listen to the voice and memories of this grand and unique composer.
It is fresh as if recorded yesterday. He mentioned living in San Francisco as a child(Castro St!) and playing with the musical instruments of Chinese and Japanese kids in the neighborhood.
In this audio he demonstrated his tonal clusters….it was marvelous….at 61 his fingers were still flying across the piano keyboard!
Guide to the Henry Cowell Papers, 1851-1994
This website will show you an astounding list that starts with the hour that Henry Cowell was born in 1897 in a shack on a muddy hill. Extreme poverty did not prevent his mother from keeping a running journal of his life. All his papers, tax returns, passports, etc are here and were not available until 2000 A.D. Indeed, these records give a better picture of Henry Cowell than do those of most human beings on this planet. View the list and you will understand that I am not exaggerating the volumes of material.
At the website, click on Research Libraries, then enter “Henry Cowell”, or simple go here: www.nypl.org/research/lpa/mus/pdf/muscowel.pdf and download the pdf.
And finally, you must treat yourself to this 25 page download entitled:
"Henry Cowell: Giving Us Permission".
It is an honest exceptional piece where Mr. Garland insists that Composer Cowell was certainly not a self-taught composer, but a disciplined well educated master of his art. And this article is an excellent way to supplement "Henry Cowell, Bohemian" .
Let us now summarize the life and activity of Mr. Cowell:
Their home was a shack in a rural area southeast of San Francisco; Henry Cowell was born there in 1897.
It was a hovel…a shack in the woods, not a delightful cabin with heat and running water.
His parents divorced in 1903, and following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, he and his mother lived (mainly with relatives) in Iowa, New York and eventually Kansas, where he had access to a piano. Three decades later, he recalled this period in the Old American Country Set (1939). By the time of their return to Menlo Park, probably in 1910, Clarissa Cowell was ill with cancer.
We know he lived with the Guilberts in Collyer, Kansas…a quiet farming community.
He returned to a residence in San Francisco, 2517 Castro St, not to the woods above Menlo Park.
Harry Cowell took his son to the University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 1914. Tuition in harmony and counterpoint was arranged with E.G. Stricklen and Wallace Sabin.
A fund, whose contributors included Terman(Stanford) and Jaime de Angulo, supported Cowell until the mid-1920s and helped with his mother's medical expenses prior to her death in May 1916. Cowell's formal début as a composer-pianist took place on 5 March 1914, in a concert promoted by the San Francisco Musical Club; included in the programme was Adventures in Harmony (1913).
After 15 months in the army (1918-19), an experience that triggered his interest in wind band music, Cowell began his career as a crusader for ultra-Modernism
Performing his own piano works, he undertook five European tours (1923, 1926, 1929, 1931, 1932); he also visited Cuba (1930), gave frequent American performances (formal New York début at Carnegie Hall, 4 Feb 1924), and was the first American composer invited to the USSR (May 1929).
'Cowell displays new method of attacking piano', as the New York Tribune put it in 1924).
He founded the New Music Society of California in 1925, and controlled the Pan American Association of Composers for much of its existence (1928-34).
In 1927, he founded the quarterly score publication New Music
In 1931 he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation grant to study comparative musicology with Erich von Hornbostel in Berlin;
His 1933 article "Towards Neo-Primitivism" proved a turning-point in his career: as Ostinato Pianissimo (1934) and the String Quartet no.4 United (1936)
A bisexual, he had twice been involved in serious (though tragic) relationships with women: Edna Smith was killed in a car accident in 1922, and Elsa Schmolke was unable to leave Hitler's Germany.
He had also had relationships with men, including one at Halcyon in 1922; in May 1936, he was arrested at his Menlo Park home on a morals charge and spent the next four years in San Quentin Penitentiary, where he taught, composed and wrote two unpublished textbooks (The Nature of Melody and Rhythm)
In 1940, after a vigorous campaign led by his step-mother Olive Cowell and the folk-music scholar Sidney Hawkins Robertson, he was released on parole
After moving to White Plains, New York, as Percy Grainger's assistant, in September 1941 he married Robertson,
Teaching and related activities at the New School for Social Research (1941-63) were supplemented by positions at Columbia University (1949-65) and the Peabody Conservatory (1951-6), and by many guest lectureships; among his postwar pupils were Dick Higgins, Philip Corner and Burt Bacharach
The Cowells undertook a world tour in 1956-7, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the US State Department, which included lengthy stays in Iran, India and Japan; among the palpable results were the Persian Set (1957), Symphony no.13 Madras (1956-8) and Ongaku (1957).
in 1963 he recorded 20 of his piano works for Folkways Records
In 1961, Cowell returned to Iran and Japan as President John F. Kennedy's representative at the International Music Conference in Teheran, and the East-West Music Encounter in Tokyo.
And then, for the first time in his 68 years, he rested from his world of music at his peeling, clapboard house in Shady, New York just off Route 212 near Reynolds Lane on Dec 10, 1965. 30 years later in 1995, his wife Sydney would also leave her world of music at the age of 91 in that same house.
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